Let’s Talk|About Penises


     Aging men all over the world – slightly older than me – surely rejoiced last week when South African surgeons performed the world’s first successful penis transplant.
     Allegedly.
     The BBC, whose manners are impeccable, reported that the 21-year-old recipient had lost his penis in a botched circumcision.
     The Capetown doctors who did the surgery told the Beeb that the poor fellow was “happy and healthy” after the operation, which we may be permitted, perhaps, to doubt. In part.
     According to the Beeb, surgeons performed the operation only after “extensive discussion” about whether it was ethical, as it was not a life-saving operation, like a heart transplant.
     Chinese doctors tried to do a penis transplant some time ago, but their patient rejected the penis.
     Why, we shall never know.
     The same thing happened to me, more than once. “But that was in another country, besides …”
     Circumcision is part of a traditional South African adulthood ceremony.
     “Doctors say South Africa has some of the greatest need for penis transplants anywhere in the world,” according to the BBC. “Dozens, although some say hundreds, of boys are maimed or die each year during traditional initiation ceremonies.”
     The South African surgery took nine hours.
     One of the surgeons, Dr. Andre Van der Merwe, told the BBC: “If you don’t have a penis you are essentially dead. If you give a penis back you can bring them back to life.”
     The Beeb reported that surgeons will do another transplant in 3 months.
     News reports on penis transplants will surely bring sniggering in the sexually repressed United States.
     It is far from my goal to contribute to this.
     Nonetheless, I feel it my duty as a newsman to report these true stories.
     In my junior high school gym class, in 1963, our P.E. teacher, Joe Giallombardo, a feisty little fellow, lined us up one day to tell us what wimps we were.
     “You think you’re tough?” Joe G. hollered. “You’re not tough! I was circumcised when I was 21 years old!”
     To which my pal George Cotsirilos replied: “That’s nothing! I was circumcised when I was a baby!”
     Ten years later, I had graduated from Reed College with a bachelor’s degree in music, and, as I should have expected, was working for Uncle Sam at Civil Service Step 1 at the Portland Post Office.
     I liked the job. I liked my co-workers and some of my bosses, even.
     What I didn’t like was the hours: 6 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
     I was playing baritone sax in a funk band and had to report to work on three hours sleep after gigs and rehearsals.
     Perhaps I was not the Post Office’s most sturdy or dependable worker.
     No matter.
     One day someone filed a lawsuit against Portland, to try to keep condom machines out of public rest rooms.
     For reasons of public health.
     Right. Dig it.
     My buddy Willis and I talked about it as we unloaded mailbags.
     Willis said the city should let the gas stations and convenience stores sell the condoms, to fight racial prejudice.
     “You could buy a black one and I could buy a pink one,” he said.
     Amen to that.

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